The Greatest Disease in the West Today

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love,” said Mother Theresa while speaking to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

She would later write, “The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty—it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” In the West millions of people suffer from terrible loneliness and emptiness, feeling unloved and unwanted. Without love people slowly begin to lose their humanity.

In his article posted on the Desiring God website, “The Soul-Shattering Sting of Loneliness,” Tony Reinke references a video that went viral last summer of a homeless man who bought two meals with the money a kind stranger gave him. The homeless man wanted the stranger to dine with him because he was so lonely out on the street. It is here where Christ meets people.

God has invited us into his life.

The church has become an assembly where the outcast and stranger have been given the best seat. With the psalmist, the church may declare, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light” (Ps. 36:7–9).

Jesus shared with his disciples what true Christian community looks like in everyday life:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me (Matt. 25:35–36).

With such a God, loneliness is banished in the communion of the saints. The love that flourishes in this communion then goes out as salt and light into the world.

While it is not always possible to fix people’s difficult long-term situations, the first thing believers can do out of their love for Christ is simply to connect with hurting people. Yet, the greatest thing we can give anyone is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ through which the Holy Spirit brings people into God’s love, fellowship, and communion. It is in God’s arms that true loneliness is banished and every tear wiped away.

Photo of Timothy W. Massaro

Timothy W. Massaro

Timothy Massaro has written for Core Christianity, Modern Reformation, and other publications. He oversees the Christian Education ministry at Resurrection PCA in San Diego and serves as a hospice chaplain. He has an affinity for all things J.R.R. Tolkien (except the movies) and has interests in the intersections of philosophy and theology. His biggest prayer is that the gospel in all its beauty might re-kindle a wonder and joy of God’s goodness in our hearts and that our lives might adorn the gospel. Connect with Timothy on Twitter @word_water_wine.​

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